What Age Really Swim?

Updated on February 14, 2015
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
16 answers

I'm just curious at what age your children really started to swim, I.e front stroke. Both of my older kids could swim under water at 4, but my oldest didn't master floating without hopping with her feet until 5.5. Now at nearly 7, she swims like a pro on her front or back, and is doing a good 10 laps during class. My son is just 5, and he does great under water, and can doggie paddle, but he still hops. He's starting to float better on his back, so if he follows his sister, he should be swimming in the next few months. His teacher and I were taking about him not having the stomach muscles and adjusting to his preschool body.

FYI, I don't care at what age they start to swim. I'm just curious because someone I know was hoping a class before summer would teach her not yet 4 year old son to swim. I told her it was doubtful, but then it got me wondering.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Opportunity, frequency & desire all factor into doing just about anything.
Remember Rule #1 of Parenting? Don't conpare kids.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i had them both take swimming lessons at 4. my older took to it like a duck, my younger struggled, but they could both swim reasonably well by the end of the classes (12, i think?)
knowing how to swim is an essential skill in my book. if i'd have had access to a pool they'd have been swimming from the gitgo.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is 4. She can swim a full lap in the pool of freestyle and backstroke. Her freestyle isn't technically correct yet - she is learning side breathing but otherwise rolls onto her back to breathe. She's also starting to learn breaststroke.

My son also learned at age 4. He's now 7 and can swim all four strokes.

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answers from Anchorage on

It really depends on when you start them out.

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answers from Atlanta on

swimming under water - I've known 18 month olds that can do that. They do survival swimming which is face in the water, kick, roll over and float to breath, repeat.

Front crawl (kicking, big arms, picking head up to breath) - My second child did it at 3.5. The others were all right around 4.

Front crawl, side breathing, back stroke - Mine were all doing that by 5.

Neighborhood summer swim team is really big down here and starts at age 4. The 4-6 year olds do 25 yards of free and back in a meet.

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answers from Columbia on

My boys each took 3 sessions of swim classes, once a year, until I felt they were confident in the water. I didn't give a rip about which stroke, just that they could get around, not drown, and handle themselves in play.

They started lessons at age 5, but were already slipping off their floaties in the shallow end to show me how they could flip and doggy paddle before then.

Every kid is different. Your friend's 4 year old might swim like a little fish.

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answers from Dallas on

One at 3 the other at 4. We're in Texas and here you die of heat if you aren't in the water in the summer so they had lots of practice.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think it's very individual to the kid, and the situation.

DS could swim as you're describing for short distances at 2 1/2, he was proficient 3, but we pretty much lived in the water every summer since he was born. He continues to be a fish.

I think it helped him that there was never any such thing as "shallow" water. He was young so even when he was in the learning pool (3 feet everywhere), he could never touch the bottom and had to swim, tread water or float. And *I* wanted to go in the big pool, so he swam where I swam.

Anyway, it's not impossible for an almost 4 year old to learn. I'd be more optimistic about private lessons than a class for learning before summer, but whatever.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

All my kids started swim lessons of some sort when they were 6 months old. All of them could swim at 3. As a lot of people have said it all depends on when you start them. I would imagine children younger than three can swim if they want to learn. Mine just didn't see the point until they discovered access to the deep end.

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answers from Chicago on

My kids did a survival swim class. They floated at 18 months and could do it consistently up to their current age. We had to shift my sons floating technique as his body changed (he's 10 now). We learned that since he is very thin, he has to close his legs to float. My kids have been in swim lessons off and on since their survival swim class and have been asked, many times, to join swim team. One kid is much better than the other two but overall I think they are all strong swimmers.

My son is in cub scouts and has an annual trip where he has to swim 75 yards in a lake. I took him to swim class three times a week for 8 weeks. I really needed to feel good that he knew safety, even though my husband was with him.

At 3 years old he won't be actually swimming strokes but he will learn what 3-4 yr olds are suppose to know. So if your friend is determined to get her 3 yr old to be a decent "swimmer" she may want to put him in more classes.

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answers from Grand Forks on

Both of my kids could swim in the deep end without a life jacket by the time they were four. They didn't have great technique or a lot of stamina, but they could get across the pool. They started un-parented swim lessons when they were three, and took mom-n-me swim lessons from the time they were infants.

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answers from Beaumont on

One at 2, the other at 3. The one who did it at 2 turned into quite the athlete. I think it's up to the individual, like anything else. We all have gifts. Also probably depends on the attitude of the parents regarding the water i.e. whether it scares the parents if they're in the water, I would think they'd pick up on that easily. We made it a super fun thing and went OFTEN.

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answers from Seattle on

My daughter has been doggy paddling, jumping into the water, holding her breath for about a year. She was 3 when she started all of this. She is like a fish!
She just turned 4 last month and we practice, "What would you do if you fell in the water?"
This means I toss her in the water (about 5 feet deep, and of COURSE I am standing next to her), she comes up and then flips to her back and floats until I grab her and lavish her with love and "good girl! You did it!"



answers from Oklahoma City on

It won't hurt for any child to take swim lessons. All kids have the ability to swim from birth. Some get afraid of the water, some aren't as coordinated with breathing and being under the water and all but they all have that ability as a newborn.



answers from Portland on

Our first born, we did the cute swimming lessons as a baby. He hated it. My husband had to dance around in the pool and sing nursery rhymes, so I think they both were relieved when that was over.

We signed the older kids up for lessons around 3 and 4 and they did them all the way up to now (middle school).

Younger ones a little later, just because we weren't organized.

No way mine could to the crawl or the right breathing at age 2 or 3 ... I think they were splashing and getting used to water when they started in classes.

One of mine couldn't float. One failed the endurance test every time (3 times taking that level...) ....

I think probably around age 10 they were decent.

We did much, much better when I put them into private swim lessons. One instructor with them, half hour a day, for a week at a time in the summer.

I used to watch them and they would cheat when the instructors weren't looking when they were in the bigger classes. So the private ones were very helpful.



answers from Portland on

Well, I took them 3x as a kid, and now at almost 40 I still can't swim. Guess it depends on the person.

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